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New England to get its share of the white stuff

| Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013, 7:34 p.m.

CONCORD, N.H. — A blizzard heading to New England could make travel nearly impossible and dump up to 2 feet of snow on a region that has had mostly bare ground this winter.

The snow will start on Friday morning, with the heaviest amounts dumped on the region that night and into Saturday as the storm moves through New England and upstate New York, the National Weather Service said.

A blizzard watch for parts of Massachusetts and Rhode Island said travel may become nearly impossible because of high winds and blowing snow.

“This has the potential for being a dangerous storm, especially for Massachusetts into northeast Connecticut and up into Maine,” said Louis Uccellini, director of the weather agency's National Centers for Environmental Prediction.

Uccellini, who has written two textbooks on Northeastern snowstorms, said on Wednesday that it is too early to tell whether the storm would be one for the record books. But he said it will be a rare and major storm, the type that means “you can't let your guard down.”

The storm would hit just after the 35th anniversary of the historic blizzard of 1978, which paralyzed the region with more than 2 feet of snow and hurricane-force winds from Feb. 5-7.

No one is wishing for a repeat, but skiers, snowmobilers and other outdoor enthusiasts are hoping for just enough snow to turn around a disappointing season.

The snowmobile season in northern New England started off strong, but after rain and warm temperatures last month, many trails in Maine turned to thick sheets of ice, said Bob Meyers, executive director of the Maine Snowmobile Association.

“People got a taste of it, and there's no question they want some more,” he said.

Nearly all of Vermont's snowmobile trails opened after Christmas, but riding lately has been limited to hard-to-reach mountain areas.

“I'd say maybe 75 percent of the trail system may be back up and running if we got a good 8-inch storm,” said Matt Tetreault, trails administrator for the Vermont Association of Snow Travelers.

Thanks to the ability to make their own snow, the region's larger ski resorts aren't as dependent on natural snowfall, though every bit helps. At Mount Snow in Vermont, spokesman Dave Meeker said the true value of Friday's storm will be driving traffic from southern New England northward.

“It's great when we get snow, but it's a tremendous help when down-country gets snow,” he said. “When they have snow in their backyards, they're inspired.”

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